It was when I was taking my daily constitutional with Ian yesterday evening that I remembered I never wrote about my experience of doing Couch To 5K last year. Seeing lots of people running through the park, ahem, jogged my memory.
I wrote a blog post at the start of January 2019 in which I shared my reasons for wanting to do it. (The link is here). They were twofold. One, to get fitter. Two, to tone up. Nothing groundbreaking. The accompanying Instagram post was was one of the most commented upon all year. So many who’d done the same programme said it would change my life, that I’d become addicted. Some were even training for a marathon, such was their newfound passion. I gave it my all and followed the rules like I do with everything, (the rules in this case being one of many apps for the Couch to 5K (C25K) programme. I tackled it with gusto and followed it to the letter.
The app guided me through each warm up, told me when to run and when to stop and walk again. The programme was excellent and after eight weeks, I could jog for 30 minutes without stopping. Mission accomplished.
But I HATED every single minute. Yes, I was undoubtedly fitter but I was permanently starving. My route took me along the canal bank here in Skipton and I’d tell myself how fortunate I am to live in this part of the world, as indeed I am. But I began to loathe it. I was permanently terrified of a pair of over-protective swans who hissed and flapped when I approached their territory. I would arrive home puce and breathless with legs like jelly and a really sore back.
At the time, I was seeing an NHS physiotherapist for the aforementioned bad back. (I’d had chronic lower back pain for several years, long before I started C25K and had followed to the letter every bit of medical advice). He told me to keep on running, so I did. But my gut instinct told me that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I’m all for stiff muscles, but not for a constant ache. The running seemed to exacerbate the pain. To cut a very long story short, I subsequently had an MRI scan then saw a musculoskeletal specialist who advised me not to lift weights and not to jog.
Reader, I could have married him.
There were definitely other contributory factors too, for example, I used to stand for several hours each weekend watching my son play football because he used to play for several teams. There was a lot of driving involved in that too which always made my back more sore. But since I stopped jogging and lifting weights, my back has been a whole lot better. It seems to have healed.
These days, my only exercise is walking. I’m happy with that, for now at least. The Couch to 5K programme is excellent and it got me to where it said it would. But jogging is not for me. The chronic back pain was taking its toll physically, mentally and emotionally and I do not want to be in that position again. It’s so important to enjoy exercise, otherwise it becomes a chore. I honestly believe that it can be more detrimental to mental wellbeing than it is beneficial to physical wellbeing. And in these most unprecedented circumstances, looking after every aspect of one’s health is absolutely vital. I’ll stick to walking hand-in-hand with Ian.
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